2014 NCAA Tournament: 5 Michigan State Players Who Must Deliver During the Sweet 16

5 Michigan State Players Who Must Deliver During the Sweet 16

Tom Izzo
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State is back once again looking for another trip to the national championship game. During Tom Izzo's tenure in East Lansing, no senior class has failed to reach the Final Four. If the Spartans fail to make it this year, it will be a major letdown as they were ranked No. 2 in the preseason polls and were picked by many to win the tournament. If Michigan State wants to advance, here are five players who need to deliver in the Sweet 16.

5. Denzel Valentine

Denzel Valentine
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

5. Denzel Valentine

Denzel Valentine
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Denzel Valentine is one of better passers in the country. He always seems to make the right play at the right time. Valentine stuffed the stat sheet against Harvard as he put up six points along with six assists and seven rebounds. He will need to put up more of these stat lines in order for Michigan State to advance.

4. Adreian Payne

Adreian Payne
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

4. Adreian Payne

Adreian Payne
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Senior forward Adreian Payne is a matchup nightmare. He can bang inside and knock the three ball down from outside. Payne went off in the second round against Delaware as he scored 41 points and added eight rebounds. He struggled against Harvard, but that won't slow him down as Payne doesn't want to end his career on a sour note.

3. Keith Appling

Keith Appling
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

3. Keith Appling

Keith Appling
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It took a little while for Keith Appling to fully recover from a wrist injury, but it's safe to say that he is back. Appling is the ideal senior point guard. He can facilitate the offense, has plenty of experience and is a calming influence when the game is on the line. Appling had a forgetful game against Harvard, but should bounce back in the Sweet 16.

2. Gary Harris

Gary Harris
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2. Gary Harris

Gary Harris
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Harris is a stud. If Michigan State needs to score a bucket, they turn to their sophomore shooting guard. With a sweet stroke and plenty of athleticism, Harris is destined to be a lottery pick in June's NBA Draft. The Spartans need their best player to come up big in the Sweet 16 if they want to make the Final Four.

1. Branden Dawson

Branden Dawson
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

1. Branden Dawson

Branden Dawson
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

It's no coincidence that Michigan State has won six of eight since Branden Dawson returned to the lineup. Dawson is one of the most athletic players in the country and average almost nine rebounds per game for the Spartans. Dawson has had a solid tournament thus far and was a huge reason why Michigan State squeaked by Harvard. Dawson is the key piece for Michigan State to get through the Sweet 16.

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